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La Raza Unida Party

Armando Navarro

Publication Year: 2010

Over the years, third parties have arisen sporadically to challenge the hegemony of the United States' two major political parties. But not until the emergence  of the Raza Unida Party (RUP) in 1970 did an ethnic group organize to fight for political control at the country's ballot boxes. This book, by noted Chicano movement theorist Armando Navarro, is the most comprehensive study of the party ever put together.

La Raza Unida Party traces the party from its beginnings in 1970 to its demise in 1981 -- the events, leaders, ideology, structure, strategy and tactics, successes and problems, and electoral campaigns that marked its trajectory. The book covers political organizing in California, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Midwest, as well as RUP's national and international politics and its party profile. In addition, its suggests options for future political arena. Based on 161 interviews, access to numerous documents, letters, minutes, diaries, and position papers, as well as such published sources as contemporary newspaper and magazine accounts and campaign literature, the study is enriched by Professor Navarro's accounts of his own experiences as one of the organizers of the RUP in California.

La Raza Unida Party represents the culmination of the story of Chicano militancy that Professor Navarro has related in his earlier books. It goes beyond mere history-telling to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of ethnic-identity political parties and the perils of challenging the two-party dictatorship that characterizes U.S. electoral politics.

Published by: Temple University Press

Front Matter

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

From the womb of the Chicano Movement's militancy and protest, a Chicano third-party movement was conceived. After four years of struggles over land grants, farm worker rights, education, police brutality, and the Vietnam War, Chicano activists broadened their social-change agenda to include the people's political empowerment. In 1970, two major leaders of the Chicano Movement, Jos

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pp. xiii-xiv

This work is a cumulative project of years of research and personal activism; therefore, I am indebted to a number of people for their inspiration and assistance, invaluable to the completion of this study. I want to acknowledge specifically all those who participated in the organizing of the Raza Unida Party. Without their leadership, commitment, sacrifice, courage, and determination to extricate our people from what...

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INTRODUCTION: Third-Party Movements: A Theoretical and Historical Framework

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pp. 1-20

Third parties have colored the political landscape of the United States since the 1820s.Their raison d'

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CHAPTER ONE: Catalyst for Empowerment: The Rise of RUP in Texas, 1970

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pp. 21-40

As a third-party movement, the Raza Unida Party (RUP) made its greatest impact in Texas. There, the M

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CHAPTER TWO: RUP's Expansion Statewide: The Beginning of the End, 1971- 1974

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pp. 41-58

The November defeats did not impede the Raza Unida Party's expansion to other parts of Texas, especially to South Texas. At the core of its expansion was the Mexican American Youth Organization's (MAYO) commitment to build RUP into a viable political party. During 1971, much of RUP's expansion beyond the four-county area was attributable to MAYO. For the next two years, MAYO became the primary...

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CHAPTER THREE: Victim of the Politics of Self-Destruction: The Decline of RUP in Texas, 1975-1978

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pp. 59-79

The years 1970 to 1974 were the golden era of the Raza Unida Party's organizing in Texas. These were history-making years, when thousands of M

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CHAPTER FOUR: A Cadre Party of Ultranationalism: The Rise and Fall of RUP in Colorado, 1970-1976

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pp. 80-107

As the Raza Unida Party (RUP) was emerging in Texas in 1970, almost simultaneously it emerged in Colorado as well. Next to the experience in Texas, no other organizing effort impacted RUP's expansion as greatly as that in Colorado. Headed by the charismatic leader of the Crusade for Justice, Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, it became in many respects a coequal catalytic organizing force to that of Jos

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CHAPTER FIVE: The Cucamonga Experiment: The Precursor of RUP in California,1968-1973

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pp. 108-133

Impelled by the electoral successes of the Raza Unida Party (RUP) in Texas, particularly in Crystal City, and encouraged by its emergence in Colorado, M

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CHAPTER SIX: A Partido of Clashing Caciques and Ideologies: The Rise of RUP in California, 1971-1972

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pp. 134-155

At about the same time that the Raza Unida Party (RUP) was being formed in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Chicano activists from Northern California were likewise exploring the possibly of setting up an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties. The unprecedented developments in Texas and Colorado were fostering a contagious excitement, interest, and hope among some Chicano Movement...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: A Casualty of the Viva Yo Generation: The Decline of RUP in California, 1973-1981

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pp. 156-172

Driven by rising expectations that the Raza Unida Party (RUP) could succeed in becoming a political alternative to the Democrat and Republican Parties, Chicano activists in California by 1973 had created a semblance of organization, established a leadership, begun developing an organizing plan of action, and run a number of candidates. From then on, RUP in California entered a decline that by 1981 would...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: A Vehicle for Self-Determination: The Rise and Fall of RUP in New Mexico, 1971-1984

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pp. 173-201

The states of Texas, Colorado, and California were the pace setters in the development of the Raza Unida Party (RUP). However, by 1971 activists in New Mexico joined in the struggle to build a Chicano political party as an alternative to the major parties. The formation of RUP in New Mexico occurred at a time when the Chicano Movement (CM) was at its apogee and increasingly had taken a posture of political empowerment...

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CHAPTER NINE: Instrument of Change and Service: The Rise and Fall of RUP in Arizona,1971-1974

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pp. 202-218

Arizona was not immune from the Chicano Movement's contagion. The state's Chicano activists became involved in the struggle to form the Raza Unida Party (RUP), even though Arizona did not have the large M

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CHAPTER TEN: Pressure Group, Service Provider, or Partido? The Rise and Fall of RUP in the Midwest and Utah, 1972-1976

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pp. 219-230

The Midwest and Utah never became a fertile political region for organizing the RUP1 Historically, the Midwest had not been part of Mexico's lost territories. It was never colonized by the Spaniards or occupied by Mexico. The colonizers had been the French, and most of the Midwest had been part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Displacing the indigenous peoples, White settlers by the latter part of the nineteenth century had...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Rationale for Expansion: RUP's National and International Politics

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pp. 231-260

After two years of struggling to build the Raza Unida Party (RUP) into a viable political party, in 1972 its national leadership also began to expand its presence in both the national and international arenas. Driven by the organizing dynamism of the Chicano Movement (CM) as well as its own successes, RUP held, in EI Paso, Texas, a national convention. Activists from eighteen states gathered for the purpose of...

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CHAPTER TWELVE: Profile of a Chicano Partido: The Unfinished Partido Experiment

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pp. 261-282

Until 1970, at no time had Mexicanos ever opted to rebuke the nation's two-party dictatorship by forming their own political party. While some electoral flirtations with third parties had occurred-for example, the United People's Party in the 1890S and the People's Constitutional Party in 1968-these experiments were multiethnic, coalitional, and reform oriented. From 1970 until its demise in 1981, the Raza Unida...

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EPILOGUE: Prospectus for a New Partido and Movement

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pp. 283-300

In spite of the powerful legacy left by the Raza Unida Party and the Chicano Movement, upon entering the new millennium, M


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pp. 301-345


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pp. 346-360

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E-ISBN-13: 9781439905586

Publication Year: 2010